tv Comunidad del Valle NBC November 4, 2012 10:00am-10:30am PST
hello and welcome to "comunidad del valle." i'm damian trujillo. and today it's all about culturo climaxing with -- the mexican heritage plaza is here. also los senusntless. this is your "comunidad del valle." we begin today with the ongoing exhibition in oakland at the oakland museum of califor a california. it's a deea delos meritos exhibition. welcome to the show. buenos dias. you sent me some pictures. but dia de los muertos is such a
colorful event. >> this year's is called colorful lives. it's about how all of us in our ordinary lives make extraordinary contributions to the story of california, to the story of the community, to the story of our family. >> people create and they build altars in memory of a loved one. now, those who don't know about the cultura, about dia de l de lode los de los muertos think this is morbid. explain how this is not morbid. >> this is something we have to educate the public about. because it's around the same time as halloween and people are used to all the media having skeletons and scary zombies, that's an what this is about. the way we remember our ancestors is by inviting them home. and these are ancestors that we want to come visit. i'd equate it to casper the friendly ghost. so it's the friendly ghosts that are coming to visit, not the scary ghosts of halloween. and it really is about remembrance-b sharing the stories of those people that meant something to us in their lives. >> it's not a national holiday, but it kind of is a big national
holiday in mexico when you think about the processions and everything -- the peregrinaciones and the processions that happens around grave sites and -- >> absolutely. and we brought it with us. it's become part of the fiber of california, too. that's why the museum represents this story in our galleries. and it really is about the celebration. it's about color. it's about food. it's about remembering. and because we're all faced with death, it's all transcending the latino culture. people all over the united states, all over california bay area are looking for ways to mourn and celebrate the lives of people that aren't here with us anymore. i think we're blowing up everywhere. we're expanding beyond -- >> my son is in second grade in san jose. part of their project yesterday was a presentation where the
teacher selects who they're going to build an altar around. he was given marie curie who was important in radioactivity and whatnot. a few of us know about marie curie. it's a chance to learn about history and historians and those who make history. >> that's exactly what we're trying to do with this, celebrating ordinary and extraordinary lives-s that dia de los muertos becomes a moment where we can remember not only our local heroes but the heroes within our families. those immigrant families that came here. somebody had to come here for a better life. somebody came here and we get to benefit from the education sitting in this roo and being able to speak two languages. sacrifice we want to honor. >> the oakland museum of california you have free -- this is from today? >> today and every sunday until the end of the run of the exhibition on december 9th. we have a moment where you can get to meet some of the artists and ask them what inspires you, who are you honoring, tell us
your story. we're all about the story of california, the story of you. and we invite you to come listen to stories and share some of your own. >> it's so fascinating because -- you mentioned not only mexico but all across latin america that they celebrate, it's an intercontinental experience if you will. but some people actually spend the night next to their muertitos. again, it sounds morbid to some people but that's what you do. >> you know, and it's not what you think. it's not like night of the living dead. it's like it's the most beautifully stunning experience. i had the pleasure of going to oaxaca and experiencing it myself. the cemeteries are lit with candles. and it's gorgeous. and you go and you're actually visiting not only with the family but you're almost visiting the grave site of that person and they're like, come meet my tia, come meet my abuela as if that person is there. and i think it's really fub fun. there's mariachis. they're singing songs to people that, you know, are being remembered in that tradition.
it's a big old party at the cemetery. >> it really is. it's beautiful. i've asked a lot of questions. i'm going to ask you to make your sales pitch for the museum and for your exhibition as you roll some of the beautiful pictures you that sent us. so go ahead, give us your sales pitch. >> i just want to invite all your public and your visitors to come share with us your story and learn more about these extraordinary people that lived ordinary and extraordinary lives just like you and your grandparents and your own ancestors. please join us. >> this is the oakland museum of california. was it difficult? i would imagine not. to make this sales pitch to the programmers and directors of the museum saying we should have -- >> this is our 18th annual. so we're close to our 20th -- it's one of the jewels of the museum. it really truly represents what we're about. we're about cultura. we're about community. we're about bringing people together. and we're about celebrating life and celebrating with color and beautiful art. and you know, and just being
embracing of our community. >> you can see those stickers at the website. the exhibition again is ongoing. the website is museumca.org. there is the information. oakland museum of california. runs through december 9th. is the information correct on this? thank you very much. >> hope to see through too. >> up next on "comunidad del valle" -- los sensuntless. alright let's break it down. mom, pop it. ♪ two inches apart, becky. two inches.
t-minus nine minutes. [ ding ] [ female announcer ] pillsbury cinnamon rolls. let the making begin. ♪ too bad the guys aren't here we're clear. ok, swarm! swarm! hello [ female announcer ] pillsbury chocolate chip cookies. let the making begin npr called them the little factory of culture. we're talking about los cenzontles. we're honored to be joined here on "comunidad del valle" by the founder, eugene rodriguez. say los cenzontles 15 times if you will. >> les cenzontles. it's not as hard as it looks. >> we're talking about cultura. this is part of that cultura. >> the cenzontle is a very significant symbol for us. it's the bird of 400 voices.
and it's a word in atwatl. we call ourselves cenzontles which translates to morkingbird because it listens to the songs of other birds and incorporates those songs into their voices. i don't think that cenzontles mock other birds p it's not really a mockingbird. we're trying to take the different cultures that are mexican and from mexican americans and strengthen our voices with those sounds and those feelings and textures. >> and you're kind of a full-blown cultural provider now. tell us about the things that you do. >> correct. we've been incorporated as a non-profit since 1994. we have an academy for kids in our neighborhood, music, dance accuracy, and crafts classes. we also have a touring group that's performed all over the world. even representing the u.s. state department. we also have productions. we've done 20 cds of cultural music as well as original music. and we make videos, which message the importance of the
value that latinos bring to our current but also the courage that's required for us to step up and take responsibility as we become leaders in the country. >> we'll talk about one of those videos, your latest video. but i do want to show you because on your website you have a compilation of those -- it shows how big you guys have gotten because if you have the caliber of artists who come and help you guys out, it says a lot. so here's a quick clip. ♪ ♪ i mean, and some of these names were not accidentally cut off but for technical reasons it
came out this way. but tell us about how you're able to persuade people like david hidalgo to come out and say this is smig want omething do? >> well, what we're doing in our community is growing our own. we feel that it's really important to create leadership from within. we start our kids at the age of 4 years old with really strong arts training and a connection to community. and when they become teenagers or adults they become really fine musicians. that's why people like the chieftains have invited us on tour internationally. linda ron stad is a wonderful friend of the arts for many, many years. jackson browne, david hidalgo of los lobos. rai cooder. taj mahal. because of the integrity the project brings. and i think -- i don't want to say this to sound boastful about just our approach, but it's to say that all of our communities have this level of capacity. it's just that we're not providing that level of training
and support to our children. so what we like to say is if you want to strengthen your community through arts leadership then grow your own, invest in your own kids. there are even teachers from our own community, parents who know how to do something valuable, auntsz and uncles, grandparents. it's about creating problems around what's already in our community. >> and you have success stories, people who over the years have gone through the program and are now -- >> oh, absolutely. so many musicians in the bay area who are contributing so much to the music scene have come through our program. and then those who don't even become artists are also contributing to their own lives, teaching their own children, getting more involved with the education. it's so easy nowadays, especially in the poorer neighborhoods like ours, to just kind of let go and to give up at a certain point or to have very low expectations. and even the schools i feel don't provide enough expectation for our kids. but i think cultural engagement is really a very effective way to get kids involved with their own lives. >> tell us about your new
regeneration video. >> regeneration is our new cd. and we're so excited about it. this is the recording that has jackson browne, david hidalgo, raul mallow, just an incredible group of guest artists. but again, written by our own folks, our local kids, our own local artists. and regeneration is a celebration of fact that this country is changing. do you know that 47% of americans under 18 are non-white? 80% of senior citizens are white. and one of the big reasons we're seeing a big political conflict right now is based on that reality. and instead of looking at this new generation with fear, we choose to look at this new generation with celebration. and if we don't invest into this new generation, then i think the future of america is much less bright. that's a good word to use, reinvest, because that's basically what it is. if you don't provide the services that you do and the other folks who are here on this show today, you know, where are kids going to be able to get this cultural enrichment, this
educational platform that we're trying to push? >> correct. if we don't invest in them, it's not just about them. it's also about our society because these are the future taxpayers who are paying into the system that will take care of the older folks. so it's really a very poor judgment to divest from our kids at this critical point in our country's history. >> give us your sales pitch as we roll the credit for los cenzontles. >> well, we'd love for you to come and visit us at aur cultural center in san pablo richmond and also check out our youtube page, youtube.com/loscenzontles. or our web page, loscenzontles.com. we have an amazing history, a lot of great friends and great music. we'd love to meet you sometime. >> loscenzontles.com. there's the web address on your screen. providing cultura not only in the richmond san pablo area but nationwide and internationally. thank you so much. >> thank you so much. >> pleasure having you here. >> pleasure to be here. >> up next here on "comunidad del valle" the mexican heritage plaza and their school of arts and culture. good morning! wow.
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it's a school of arts and culture at the mexican heritage plaza in san jose. christina velasquez is one of the instructors there. also lilia agero kind of runs the school of arts and cultural program at the mexican heritage. welcome to the show. >> thank you. >> we have a theme going here on the show. tell us about the school of arts and culture if you will at the mexican heritage plaza. we have some pictures that you sent us from the website also that we're going to show. go ahead. >> well, we have been in existence now for a little over a year and a half. so we're brand new but at the same time it's been a team that has worked together before. we're seasoned in terms of the arts and cultural work that we do and we also have the privilege of working with wonderful visual and performing arts, teaching artists that move the work forward there. they are the core of the work that is done there. the serviced we provide. >> what does it do to you when you see these images from your website, of children, they're from the neighborhood and they
say i want to spend some time learning about cultura, about dance, about everything else that's involved there at the mexican heritage plaza? >> it's just so uplifting because again, what parents also tell us is the changes that they see in their children when the children are able to participate and connect with their cultura and connect with wonderful teachers like christina. the students come alive. they develop new interests. they begin to draw incessantly in the plaquillo style, the way it was done with the as tezteco. they sing all the time. they say all these changes that are really positive and they see their students developing focus and self-esteem and connection. >> right. >> so that's very, very important. >> my 7-year-old is with los mestizos of san jose. so she dances. at 6:00 in the morning she's doing her steps -- i'm like [ speaking spanish ]
tell bus your rous about your r. the kids are getting a lot out of it. what are you getting out of it? >> i feel fortunate to work for the school of arts and culture at the mexican heritage plaza. it is a blessing to work with this beautiful group of individuals. i work for other institutions and i go to all their schools, and i have to tell you that our kids, our latino kids, are by far the most creative, the most colorful. they are always bursting with ideas and with texture and color that they bring into the artwork. so to me it's a pleasure. and it informs my work as well. >> and it's not just free time where the kids go out and have fun. they're learning a lot in your classroom. >> yes, they are. i teach the drawing and the painting class, and we start with fundamental skills. i have them do a little bit of warm-up. it is very much my thing to start them way five-minute warm-up. this is how we enter the studio. we are now thinking about creating our work. our hands need to behave differently. our eyes, our minds. we need to get in line with
everything that is about to happen. it's not like writing, and it's not like running around. it's a focus. and it's a very particular time for us to really engage with ourselves and with the materials. >> the mexican heritage plaza went to a renaissance. this is completely new because it involved community folks getting together for weeks on end to say what should we make out of the mexican heritage plaza. and this is it. how has it worked so far? >> i think, again, we've hit upon a solution. i'll let you know that our summer camps just went gangbusters this past year and we were sold out weeks in advance. we even had a couple of kids stow away, you know, just kind of sneaking in. they weren't able to register for the third session. maybe they won't notice. so that was a sign to us that we had achieved a solution for families and for the children in a way that really supports them in their life. they get not only wonderful arts
and culture and quality education but also quality childcare. that's very important also for our community. so we hit upon that. and now as we're moving forward we're thinking of creative ways to also come up with solutions for during school time. and one of the things that we're looking at is possibly integrating our arts and cultural classes that are going on throughout the year with a homework center. some of our parents are saying, you know, that would really be helpful for us. so we're really looking into that. we're very open and flexible to see what is it that the community needs and how can we best respond? >> what do you hope, christina, that children go home with either at the end of the day or the end of the program or their parents or families? what do you want them to get out of what you have to teach them? >> you know, as visual artists, and i tell them all the time, i'm first and foremost a visual artist. i was born a visual artist. i knew i wanted to paint and grow up to be an artist since i was 5, since i was in kindergarten. and i think my responsibility as an artist is to go out in and
educate, go out there and promote and plant a little seed. so i'm hoping that they will at the very least grow up -- excuse me, will grow up to respect the arts. if they don't want to grow up to be an artist, i'm not going to be offended. i'm not going to be offended. i will respect them such as much. i really just want them to respect the arts, to continue to promote them, to continue to experience them, enjoy them. and to pass them on to other generations. >> when they do stick figures, are they on their way -- >> well, we fill in the stick figures with bubbles. it's one minute step toward a full form or a full figure as we build our skills. >> i love it. and i love the concept. any final thoughts, lilia, before we -- >> well, again, as christina's pointed out, we are privileged to work with teaching artists who have this strong commitment to comunidad as well as the arts, so they have this dual
skill set. we're just thrilled to be working with such individuals. and also, this is a place where the students are learning their life skills through work in the studio, whether it's the performing arts studio or whatever it is. they're learning life skills. they're also learning language and culture. that's very, very important in the work that we do. so with all of those things we hope that, again, we are supporting our community and helping our students and all of the generations that come together in it engage in a very positive way and empowered way. >> i know that mariachi d de azteca does a great job with mariachi workshops. there's the web address. a couple of web addresses for more information. it's great to see that things are actually looking up for the mexican heritage plaza. thank you for being here. up next on "comunidad del valle" --
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support your bilingual weeklies all across. follow us on twitter. @newsdamian. again we thank you for sharing part of your sunday with us. once again. we will see you again next week. we leave you now with calpu calpuli ponaleqe. >> the four directions of light. before -- we give thanks to the creation. ♪ ♪
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